In 1996-1997 the newspapers reported two shocking cases of baby killings. In the first, two 18-year-old college students brought a child into the world in a hotel room, killed it, and threw the body into a dumpster. In the other, an 18-year-old girl left her school prom and gave birth in a bathroom stall, left the dead child in a garbage can and returned to the dance hall. Both cases resulted in murder charges.
While most people ascribed these events to moral collapse or mental disturbance, Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offered a terrifying explanation: genetic compulsion. In his article published in the New York Times, Pinker claimed that killing a baby on the day it was born did not represent a mental illness because this had been an accepted practice in many cultures throughout history:
Killing a baby is an immoral act, and we often express our outrage at the immoral by calling it a sickness. But normal human motives are not always moral, and neonaticide does not have to be a product of malfunctioning neural circuitry or a dysfunctional upbringing. 1
The most striking part of Pinker's quotation is the expression "but normal human motives are not always moral." This reveals an abnormality in his way of looking at things. In other words, even if some behavior is immoral, it can still be regarded as legitimate because it is part of "normal" motives particular to human beings. According to Pinker, the killing of a newborn baby when circumstances make that necessary is allegedly "normal" behavior. According to evolutionists' fictitious claims, mothers under primitive conditions need to make a difficult choice between caring for their already existing offspring and feeding newborn ones. Therefore, if a baby is born sick or is unlikely to survive, then she may prefer to try again by eliminating that individual. This assumption is neither scientific nor true, of course. Nevertheless, a Darwinist mindset propels Pinker to endorse this savagery.
This claim proposed by Pinker and others like him will do obvious damage to society. When the concept of genetic compulsion is advanced in moral choices, then someone who commits murder can say, "I had to do it—my genes made me." In such a case, since genes cannot be punished, there is no crime and no criminal. In his claims, Pinker is discounting human reason and conscience, imagining that everything can be explained in terms of genes. Encountering a reaction from society, he makes a few changes to his terminology, but this time finds himself in an internal inconsistency.
One of those to criticize Pinker was Andrew Ferguson, who wrote in The Weekly Standard:
They make us see it not as a moral horror, but as a genetically encoded evolutionary adaptation...2
Pinker is able to defend the claims in question despite their resting on absolutely no scientific evidence. One of the criticisms of Pinker's claims is that they consist of nothing more than conjecture based on evolutionists' illusory world views. Ferguson, for example, criticized Pinker's logic and stated that he offered no evidence for his claims. The fact is, all of evolutionary psychology is based on proofless conjecture and the power of the imagination. In his book The Wedge of Truth, Phillip Johnson says:
Basically, evolutionary psychology proceeds by erecting a mountain of speculation on the basis of fragmentary evidence about primitive cultures.3
Ferguson makes this diagnosis on the subject in his criticism:
Conjecture solidifies into fact; the fact then becomes a basis for further conjecture, which evolves into another factual premise, and so on.4
1. Steven Pinker, "Why They Kill Their Newborns," New York Times, 2 November 1997.
2. Andrew Ferguson, "How Steven Pinker's Mind Works", The Weekly Standard, January 12, 1998, p. 16.
3. Philip Johnson, The Wedge of Truth, Intervarsity Press, Illinois, 2000, p. 113.
4. Andrew Ferguson, "How Steven Pinker's Mind Works," The Weekly Standard, p. 16.